Legendary ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Judge Passes Away

Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, and Bruno Tonioli had served as judges together since the show debuted in 2005. (Eric McCandless)

Len Goodman, the renowned judge from the popular dance shows “Dancing with the Stars” and “Strictly Come Dancing,” passed away at the age of 78 on Monday, as confirmed by his agent. Goodman had been battling bone cancer and peacefully passed away on Saturday night.

His agent, Jackie Gill’s statement read, “he (Goodman) was a much loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him.”

Goodman was a former professional ballroom dancer and British champion, and he played a pivotal role in reviving interest in ballroom dancing on both sides of the Atlantic. He served as the head judge on the BBC’s “Strictly Come Dancing” for 12 years since its launch in 2004. The show, which pairs celebrities with professional dance partners, became a surprise hit and remains one of the network’s most beloved shows.

Fellow judge Bruno Tonioli posted a tribute on Instagram, saying, “Heart broken my dear friend and partner for 19 years the one and only ballroom legend #lengoodman passed away I will treasure the memory of our incredible adventures and hundreds of shows we did together @bbcstrictly @dancingwiththestars they will never be anyone like you we will miss you.”

Goodman was known for his distinctive Cockney accent, and at times extremely honest and harsh criticism.  For instance, he once commented, “You floated across that floor like butter on a crumpet” after watching a captivating foxtrot, and he described a salsa-dancing couple as “like two sizzling sausages on a barbecue,” earning him a reputation as a judge with a keen eye and a sharp tongue.

Last fall, during the 31st season of Dancing with the Stars, Goodman announced he would be retiring from the show. Goodman said, “I will miss the California sunshine, working with my fellow judges and the camaraderie with everyone on the show. I’ll miss seeing the celebrities developing into dancers and I will miss being part of one of the most successful shows on TV.”

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